The Saw Doctors
DAVID HOLLAND: “Guess what all of the bedders in Cambridge do when they’re not picking your pants up and emptying your bin? They watch Irish folk-rock bands and drink pints.”
The Junction, 30th November. £20 adv.
The Saw Doctors peaked in popularity in 1990. I was born in 1991. You do the maths. I youtubed them: the top video was The Saw Doctors covering The Sugababes. There is something very unsettling about watching a 51 year old man singing school disco music in an Irish folk band…
The Junction, as always, served an excellent venue and was as full as I had ever seen it, but the average age was about 40. I felt slightly uneasy; hundreds of shaven headed, burly, Irish men with a pint of Guinness in each hand… I gave it maybe 3 minutes, at best, before a fight broke out.
But, no. The atmosphere in the room was one of mutual love, respect and admiration for a band that still hold the record for Ireland’s all time top selling single. And so, guess what all of the bedders in Cambridge do when they’re not picking your pants up and emptying your bin? They watch Irish folk-rock bands and drink pints. Hi Denise. To clarify, this is a very good thing at a gig; no moshing kids or stoned emos; just real devoted fans.
They were fantastic. They nailed the perfect blend of quality musicianship and that ‘live energy’ that tossers bang on about. I had the sense that I was watching masters of their instruments play as well as a group who are internationally renowned as one of the best live acts in the UK. Perhaps their newer material isn’t their best, and perhaps this performance wasn’t as energetic as they had been in their younger days, but sod it, it was brilliant.
Tracks such as I Useta Lover and About You Now warranted large singsongs from the crowd, but for the most part fans watched in quiet appreciation. They admired the band in the way that you admire a ballet or a great play. We were not just watching music we were watching a performance. Interactivity was high and Leo even stopped to chime in some comedy. “Instead of buying Ireland you guys should have sent the money to FIFA and bought the world cup; then we could all get pissed and have a laugh”. Not sure he should give up the guitar in favour of fiscal policy, but it certainly made the band feel friendly and encouraged crowd participation.
Why Don’t We Share The Darkness Tonight and To Win Just Once were personal favourites of mine, but to be honest every song was of solid quality. Their sort of Eagles-esque, chilled out, rock vibe mixed with the sound of up-tempo Irish folk may seem an unfortunate combination on paper; but live it really works. Not a single person in the whole venue seemed even slightly dissatisfied with the performance. Some danced, some just watched, but everyone clapped the kind of clap that goes on far longer than it has to, just to show it’s more than a gesture.